Islam Slimani

Getty Images

Neymar’s two goals not enough as PSG draws 3-3 with Monaco

Leave a comment

PARIS — Neymar’s two goals were not enough as Monaco punished sloppy defending to draw 3-3 at French league leader Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.

PSG moved five points ahead of second-place Marseille, with PSG playing its game in hand at Monaco on Wednesday.

Robert Moreno’s first league game in charge of Monaco, after replacing the fired Leonardo Jardim, was an impressive one as his side twice came from behind and nearly won late on at Parc des Princes.

Neymar put PSG ahead in the third minute with an excellent finish, controlling a clever lofted pass over the defense from Italy midfielder Marco Verratti on his chest and nonchalantly guiding the ball inside the near post.

But Monaco midfielder Cesc Fabregas picked out Wissam Ben Yedder with a flicked pass from the edge of the area and, after Ben Yedder was bundled over by goalkeeper Keylor Navas, midfielder Gelson Martins poked in the loose ball after seven minutes.

Monaco’s second goal in the 12th looked alarmingly easy.

A team move started from the edge of Monaco’s penalty area ended with Ben Yedder collecting a pass inside PSG’s area, shuffling past a defender, and expertly beating Navas with a curling shot for his league-leading 14th goal of the season.

Eighth-place Monaco should have been 3-1 up but, with time to pick his spot, forward Keita Balde placed his shot too close to Navas.

PSG punished that immediately, with Neymar collecting a pass from Angel Di Maria and curling a shot which deflected off defender Fode Ballo-Toure for an own-goal in the 24th, making it 2-2.

After Monaco center half Kamil Glik hit the post with a header from a corner, PSG went ahead in the 42nd. Martins fouled Kylian Mbappe for a penalty, and Neymar sent goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte the wrong way with ease for his 10th league goal.

Still, Monaco pressed forward and Russia midfielder Aleksandr Golovin curled wide with the goal at his mercy seconds before the break.

Lecomte reacted well to keep out Neymar’s shot early on in an even second half.

Substitute Islam Slimani punished more slack PSG defending to equalize in the 70th, turning home a loose ball after Martins bamboozled the PSG defense and his shot was deflected by Marquinhos into the alert Slimani’s path.

The referee disallowed the goal for offside, but then awarded it after a video review because Marquinhos’ intervention effectively played Slimani back onside.

Navas made a sharp one-handed save to keep out Slimani’s close-range header from a corner in the 88th. PSG was lucky to avoid a penalty since center half Thiago Silva deflected Slimani’s header with his raised hand.

CLINICAL NANTES

Mehdi Abeid and Ludovic Blas provided the goals as Nantes won 2-0 at struggling Saint-Etienne to move up to fourth place.

Abeid put Nantes ahead in the 23rd minute with a powerful strike from outside the penalty area after Saint-Etienne’s defense failed to clear the ball properly.

Blas netted three minutes after the break from Nigeria forward Moses Simon’s pass.

Saint-Etienne’s form has dropped in recent games and a ninth defeat of the season pushed coach Claude Puel‘s side down to 15th spot.

HOME COMFORT

Dijon extended its unbeaten home run to eight league games with a 1-0 win against Lille, despite having a player sent off early on.

Defender Hamza Mendyl received a red card in the 21st minute for kicking Luiz Araujo in the ribs.

After Lille missed several chances, Dijon scored in the 47th when Julio Tavares latched onto midfielder Mama Balde’s chested pass and shot confidently past goalkeeper Mike Maignan for his fourth league goal this season.

Both teams finished with 10 men after Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare was sent off in the 67th.

Lille dropped to fifth place behind Nantes while Dijon, which beat PSG at home this season, rose to 16th place.

Ligue 1 wrap: Mbappe, Cavani limp off in PSG’s 4-0 Neymar-less win

Photo by Mehdi Taamallah/NurPhoto via Getty Images
3 Comments

PARIS (AP) After being involved in one of the most comical moments in European football last season, striker Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting distinguished himself with a fine goal and scored a second as Paris Saint-Germain beat Toulouse 4-0 in the French league on Sunday.

The resounding win came at a price, however, as PSG forwards Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe, clutching the back of his left leg and grimacing, limped off.

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel said the players will have tests Monday to determine the extent of their injuries.

Despite being match fit, record signing Neymar remains unavailable as he seeks to push through a move away from the club – a situation which appears increasingly exasperating for Tuchel.

“Today was the occasion (for him to play) … it’s certain he could have played today,” Tuchel said in French on Canal Plus television. “It’s not a clear situation and it should be clear.”

Tuchel then went as far as to suggest he has little or no say as to whether Neymar can play against Metz on Friday – just days before the transfer window shuts.

It was Choupo-Moting, then, who replaced Cavani in the 13th minute and he will not enjoy many nights like this.

Receiving a pass from Angel Di Maria, the Cameroon striker burst into the penalty area, span around with one touch to move inside two defenders and drilled the ball into the bottom left corner with the next touch in the 50th minute.

It was only his fourth goal in 23 league games since a surprise move from unheralded English side Stoke last season.

In April, Choupo-Moting was widely mocked on social networks for an extraordinary passage of play in a 2-2 home draw against Strasbourg. Amid disbelieving looks from teammates, he somehow prevented a goal for his team despite the ball being about to cross the goal-line, gently nudging the ball onto the post before it was cleared by defenders.

He was only on the field on Sunday night due to an injury to Cavani, who limped off with what appeared to be a leg muscle injury. Midway through the second period, Mbappe left the field after appearing to hurt his hamstring.

After a first half in which Mbappe missed good chances, Choupo-Moting’s opener was a welcome breakthrough. Five minutes later, it was 2-0 when Toulouse defender Mathieu Goncalves turned Pablo Sarabia’s cross into his own net.

Goncalves was harshly judged to have conceded a penalty soon after, slipping over in the area and powerless to stop Sarabia’s cross hitting his left arm. Referee Jerome Brisard still gave it, despite a video review. With Cavani injured and Neymar absent, Di Maria took the spot kick and saw his effort well saved by goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet.

Choupo-Moting confidently drove home a cross from left back Juan Bernat in the 75th and Brazil defender Marquinhos headed in Di Maria’s corner from the left late on for the fourth goal as PSG climbed up to third place with six points – three points behind leader Rennes.

Lyon can move back top on goal difference with a win at Montpellier on Tuesday.

OTHER MATCHES

Rennes won 2-0 at Strasbourg.

Confidence was high after last Sunday’s 2-1 home win against PSG, and goals from midfielder Clement Grenier in the first half and powerful center forward M’Baye Niang soon after the break made it nine points from three games.

Monaco, meanwhile, is still seeking its first win after drawing 2-2 at home to Nimes.

New signings Wissam Ben Yedder and Islam Slimani scored to put Monaco 2-0 up at halftime.

But after Brazilian defender Jemerson’s 55th-minute sending off, Nimes hit back through midfielder Romain Philippoteaux and 18-year-old forward Kevin Denkey.

Jemerson was shown a yellow card for a tackle from behind on Philippoteaux, but the referee changed it to a red following a video review.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Algeria’s Mahrez, Senegal’s Mane meet in Africa Cup of Nations final

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A fascinating matchup between two Premier League stars will take place Friday as the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations comes to a conclusion. Riyad Mahrez and Algeria meet Sadio Mane and Senegal for a second time in the competition, this one for all the glory.

Senegal may be the favorite given their superior FIFA ranking, but the 22nd ranked nation in the world hasn’t looked its best despite being one of the final two teams remaining in the competition. They finished second to Algeria in Group C play thanks more to its organized defense than its highly-touted attack which has taken too long to get going too often.

Algeria, meanwhile, is considered a worthy opponent despite their FIFA ranking of 68. Riyad Mahrez has been electric in the knockout stages, and while his finishing up front has left a little to be desired, his creativity is providing his nation with the chances it needs to secure upsets. Mahrez scored in the 3-0 win over fellow surprise Benin in the quarterfinals, and again found the back of the net in dramatic fashion to beat Nigeria late in the semis.

Not only is Algeria in better form coming in, but they have the rub of the grain as well. Star Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly will harshly miss the final due to a yellow card suspension, as the Africa Cup of Nations is one of the few tournaments that still does not wipe yellow card accumulation after the quarterfinal. His third yellow of the tournament came in the semifinal when a vicious shot struck his elbow, awarding Tunisia a penalty which they subsequently missed.

While the goals haven’t necessarily flowed for either side in this tournament, they both have significant attacking firepower when on. Behind Mahrez for Algeria is Napoli’s Adam Ounas who also has three goals in the competition, one off the lead, while Leicester City frontman Islam Slimani patrols in the middle. For Senegal, Manee is backed up by Stade Rennes youngster Ismaila Sarr who directly contributed to 15 goals last Ligue 1 season and had a goal and assist against Kenya in the group stage.

The matchup between two defensively stout attacking threats should prove to be a thriller, especially considering the semifinal nailbiters from which they advanced.

Africa Cup of Nations last 16 preview: Salah, Mane on collision course?

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The group stage of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations has been low-scoring, so we’ll be hoping for some early goals to open up play for the many electric stars of Africa.

That doesn’t mean we haven’t seen the big names find the score sheet, as Mohamed Salah of Liverpool and host nation Egypt has two goals — as many as anyone in the tournament — the same amount as club teammate Sadio Mane.

[ MORE: JPW’s Round of 16 predictions ]

The Reds may be on a collision course for Cairo on July 19, with Senegal the 22nd ranked team in the world via FIFA and Egypt hosting the tournament.

All five of the nations to qualify for the 2018 World Cup remain alive, with three in the top of the bracket and two in the bottom.

The 32nd edition of the competition could see a rematch of the 31st final in the quarterfinals, but it will require Cameroon emerging from a massive Round of 16 meeting with Nigeria.

Should they do so, and the hosts beat South Africa, the rematch will arrive on Wednesday in Cairo.

The Cameroon-Nigeria match may be topped by one in the upper half of the bracket, as Ghana looks to reassert itself as a power by knocking of Tunisia. The Black Stars missed out on the 2018 World Cup, and the winner is arguably a favorite to reach the final.

Premier League talents on show

Senegal – Mane (Liverpool), Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton), Cheikhou Kouyate (Crystal Palace)

Morocco – Romain Saiss (Wolves)

Democratic Republic of Congo – Arthur Masuaku (West Ham)

Ghana – Christian Atsu (Newcastle), Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace)

Mali – Moussa Djenepo (Southampton)

Ivory Coast – Serge Aurier (Spurs), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace), Jonathan Kodija (Aston Villa)

Algeria – Riyad Mahrez (Man City), Islam Slimani (Leicester)

Guinea – Naby Keita (Liverpool)

Nigeria – Leon Balogun (Brighton), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester), Henry Onyekuru (Everton).

Cameroon – Gaetan Bong (Brighton),

Egypt – Salah (Liverpool), Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal), Ahmed Elmohamady (Aston Villa)

Round of 16 schedule

Uganda v. Senegal – July 5
Morocco v. Benin – July 5

Madagascar v. Democratic Republic of Congo – July 7
Ghana v. Tunisia – July 8

Mali v. Ivory Coast – July 8
Algeria v. Guinea – July 7

Nigeria v. Cameroon – July 6
Egypt v. South Africa – July 6

AFCON wrap: Mane brace, Zaha goal help favorites Senegal and Ivory Coast to victory

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It was a great day to be a favorite in the Africa Cup of Nations on Monday, as all four countries expected to move on clinched berths in the knockout stage.

In the early pair of kickoffs, Ivory Coast stormed Namibia 4-1 while Morocco needed a late goal to top South Africa 1-0. The late kicks saw Algeria blitz Tanzania 3-0 with a strong first half and Senegal topped Kenya 2-0.

Wilfried Zaha got his first goal of the tournament in the win for the Ivory Coast, sealing the game with a low line drive in the 84th minute to make it 3-1 before Maxwel Cornet finished off the scoring five minutes later. Former Bournemouth winger Max Gradel opened the scoring 39 minutes in with a blast from a tight angle with the only goal of the first half, while Basel midfielder Serey Die put them 2-0 up near the hour mark. Namibia made it 2-1 with 19 minutes to go but Zaha’s goal finished off the game.

While that saw the Ivory Coast seal a knockout spot, Morocco got a late goal to pip South Africa, earning the top spot in Group D and dooming South Africa to a perilous position among the third-place table. M’bark Boussoufa scored the all-important goal in the 90th minute, poking home amid a scrum on a free-kick delivered into the box from the left flank.

In Group C action, Algeria made it three wins in three after a trio of first-half goals eased them through past Tanzania, eliminating the minnows in just their second-ever tournament. Leicester City striker Islam Slimani opened the scoring in the 34th minute, and Algeria got a brace from young Napoli winger Adam Ounas to put them up big at the break. Slimani’s came on a brilliant long-ball over the top from Ounas who split the center-backs perfectly and allowed the Foxes striker to finish it off cooly past Metacha Mnata. Ounas scored his first five minutes later on a fabulous one-two with Slimani, while his second and Algeria’s third found the back of the net with the last kick of the game on the break as Ounas whizzed past Tanzania defender Mohamed Husseini before rounding Mnata with a touch from his right.

With Algeria on top, Senegal finished second by taking down Kenya 3-0 behind a brace from Sadio Mane. After a scoreless first half that saw Mane miss from the penalty spot, Stade Rennais youngster Ismaila Sarr put Senegal ahead with a wonderful volley after Kenya goalkeeper Patrick Matasi whiffed on a cross and left the goal gaping. With the 1-0 lead and a half-hour to go, Mane took control and grabbed his first by latching onto a blasted clearance by Lamine Gassama who just booted the ball out into the attacking half where just Mane was patrolling, and he raced right between the pair of defenders for a fastbreak finish. He grabbed his second on a penalty in the 78th minute, making amends for earlier by burying his spot-kick in the low right-hand corner, and while Matasi guessed right he came up just short.

At this stage in the competition, there is just one more round of games tomorrow before the knockout stage is set. Teams confirmed through via the group stage are Egypt, Uganda, Madagascar, Nigeria, Algeria, Senegal, Morocco, and Ivory Coast while Guinea and Democratic Republic of Congo are both already assured of a spot via the third-place table. Groups E and F will wrap up on Tuesday as Mali and Cameroon are in the pole positions with Tunisia, Angola, Mauritania, Ghana, Benin, and Guinea-Bissau all in the hunt.